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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 7:25 pm 
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Thor

Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:14 am
Posts: 35
When I think of major decisive historical events that happened a century or two before the formation of Christianity, I can’t think of a more crucial moment than the Battle of Actium (31 B.C.E.) where the forces of Mark Antony & Cleopatra VII met Octavian (the future Augustus) & General Agrippa. After the outcome, Egypt became a Roman province; an event that principally contributed to the formation of Christianity, at least this is what I conclude.

There were 2 main general reasons why I believe the new Roman Egypt precipitated the failure of the ancient religion, and the development of Christianity:

1) For more than 3000 years, the head of state (called Pharaoh from the New Kingdom on) was the mediator between the gods and the people (hint: like the later Jesus). After Cleopatra’s death, the head of state became permanently absent creating religious confusion & a vacuum.

2) People must understand that in the ancient Egyptian hereafter continuing the life by the Nile’s marshes cultivating the land (with the aid of shabtis) was the eternal reward for the populace. While the citizens of Alexandria mostly comprised of Greek & Jewish residents did not have to pay as many taxes to the conquerors, for the first time in the 3000 year old civilization, an outside culture, the Romans, imposed such heavy taxation on the general Egyptian population that it made the natives’ lives too miserable to consider resuming in the afterlife. This new situation gave way to the new faith of Christianity brought about by the presence of Therapeuts, Essenes, other Jewish immigrants from nearby Palestine, and Egyptian-Greeks all living in the privileged city of Alexandria as Acharya has already suggested. The new religion now offered a better afterlife alternative in the form of a heavenly paradise, and its doctrine conveniently included several adapted concepts from the old religion to facilitate the transition to the new creed, I might add, allowing the novel belief to thrive as it did among the inhabitants of the Nile.

IMHO, it would have been much better if Antony & Cleopatra had won at Actium where the ancient Egyptian attitudes would have dominated the Mediterranean world not only religiously but politically as well. In his book Ancient Egypt Dr. David P. Silverman explains on pg. 130

Quote:
Where as the Bible account of Creation culminates in the appearance of humankind, Egyptian creation ends with a cosmic event: the first sunrise, beginning the ongoing cycle of life. Where Egyptian myth refers to the creation of humanity at all, it is usually content with a passing play on words, deriving the origin of people (rmt) from the creator’s tears (rmyt). For the Egyptians, the origins of living things was of less interest than that of the conditions needed for life to exist at all: the appearance of a dry void within the universal waters (Shu and Tefnut, Geb and Nut), the principle of sex and birth (Osiris and Isis, Seth and Nephthys); and the first sunrise to set this forces in motion. From the surviving documents, it seems that life itself, in all its diversity, was viewed as an automatic consequence of these cosmic events.


This type of view of the universe was nature centered, and much healthier than the later Christianity & its child, Islam. Too bad the Battle of Actium ended the way it did.

Anyhow, this is my take on the major political & societal contributor to the origin of Christianity. Anybody’s thoughts or comments?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 6:56 am 
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Hercules

Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:11 pm
Posts: 85
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Didn't the Ptolemy Pharaohs bring Greek mythologies into the Egyptian religions? Didn't Mark Anthony give Cleopatra the territory of Palestine to be her own, and wasn't that one reason that Octavian came against Mark Anthony? How do you think Palestine would have been different if Cleopatra had been ruling there instead of the Romans? Would there have been more Greek influence or more Egyptian influence in the religions of that area?

Rik


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:10 am 
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Thor

Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:14 am
Posts: 35
Quote:
Didn't the Ptolemy Pharaohs bring Greek mythologies into the Egyptian religions? Didn't Mark Anthony give Cleopatra the territory of Palestine to be her own, and wasn't that one reason that Octavian came against Mark Anthony? How do you think Palestine would have been different if Cleopatra had been ruling there instead of the Romans? Would there have been more Greek influence or more Egyptian influence in the religions of that area?


No, it was just the opposite. The Ptolemys fully adopted the Egyptian religion. Starting with Alexander The Great he was declared son of Amun Re after making several pilgrimages, and had himself depicted in front of his father the god in the Luxor temple:

Image

This trend continued all the way to Cleopatra, here depicted with her son Caesarion at the temple of Hathor at Dendera:

Image

This dynasty already ruled Palestine, and it happened when Ptolemy I added the land to his Egyptian empire (301 B.C.E.). The fact that there had been for quite some time a large Jewish population practicing their religion in Alexandria should demonstrate that the Ptolemys were not forcing a particular creed in Palestine.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 11:03 pm 
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Hercules

Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:11 pm
Posts: 85
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Quote:
The Ptolemys fully adopted the Egyptian religion.


What about Serapis?


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:20 pm 
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Thor

Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2011 12:14 am
Posts: 35
Quote:
What about Serapis?


Image

Although alien deities were not as popular, with the presence of Dedwen & Ash in the Old Kingdom, and Baal & Astarte in the New Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians already had foreign gods and goddesses in their pantheon. Ptolemy I envisioned to religiously join Egyptian deity aspects with some Greek ones in order to effectively unify the Nile civilization with Greek society.

In his book The Complete Gods And Goddesses Of Ancient Egypt Egyptologist Dr. Richard H. Wilkinson explain on pg.127,128:

Quote:
The hybrid god Serapis was a composite of several Egyptian and Hellenistic deities…The god thus answered the needs of a new age in which Greek and Egyptian religion were brought face to face and the new deity was created to form a bridge between to the two cultures…The cult center of Serapis was the great Serapeum Temple at Alexandria…Other smaller temples and shrines were dedicated to the god in locations throughout Egypt, and the god’s cult was spread through much of the Graeco-Roman world by traders and converts.


We read in his other book The Complete Temples Of Ancient Egypt on pg. 85:

Quote:
Based primarily on Osiris and Apis, but also embodying aspects of the Greek gods Zeus, Asklepios and Dionysos, the cult of Serapis was popular among Greeks and Egyptians alike, and spread from Alexandria through much of the Mediterranean world…In Egypt itself, however, the Egyptians never fully accepted the hybrid god and the evidence for his popular worship is considerably less than for other, traditional Egyptian deities.


This god was made to promote to the Greeks main Egyptian divinities (Osiris & the Apis bull) by creating the image of the deity with Hellenistic outward appearances: the Hellenes did not like permanent animal physical features in their gods, so in Serapis we see a complete anthropomorphized form with a human head rather than a beast’s. He also has a typical Greek curly hair and beard, definite features that Greeks would relate to.


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